The Advent Part 77
Acts 2:42, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
So what did the disciples do upon seeing three thousand men converted in one day? Did they start making plans to build a building, have arguments about who would be their designated bishop, start an expansion fund, lease a private jet, or put together an advertising budget? They did what they had always done, they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. All realized it was not about them, they realized it was not about building their own personal kingdoms on earth, they realized it was not about name recognition or market share, it was about the Christ, the One who bought them with the price of His blood, it was about exhorting people to repentance and a new life in Him, and if prayer, the breaking of bread, fellowship and continuing steadfastly in doctrine had worked for them up until that point, why try to fix something that isn’t broken?
Man has this inane tendency to try and help God out, to try and improve on something that God has ordained or established, not realizing that all we are doing by attempting to help God is hindering His plan and inserting ourselves into something that is entirely His doing.
‘Well, yes, God stirs the hearts, God draws people unto Himself, but we have to do something to get them to come to church, so every other Sunday we’ll have a raffle, on Wednesdays we’ll have free coffee and donuts, and once a month we will have a free car giveaway. That ought to grow the congregation.’
So what was it that the apostles and disciples of Christ offered the three thousand souls who received the word of God with gladness and were baptized? What added incentive did these men have to follow after Jesus knowing full well that they would be persecuted, maligned, ostracized, and hated? Did they get a new donkey, perhaps a new cart, a few shekels or a new cloak?
Nothing was offered them by way of compensation, there was no added incentive material or otherwise, yet three thousand came to Christ in one day. There is power in the Word of God, there is power in the preaching of the gospel of Christ, and the way that men’s hearts are pierced, the way that they are stirred to repentance is by hearing the true and undefiled Scripture being preached to them.
We overthink and overcomplicate something that ought to be so simple. The way we can grow a congregation today is the way that it was done two thousand years ago, by prayer and fellowship, by continuing steadfastly in the Word of God, and by preaching a risen Christ to all who would hear.
Within the preceding verse we see four principal aspects by which a new life in Christ can mature at an optimum level. These four aspects are as the four walls of a house, or the four wheels of a car, all necessary for the wellbeing of an individual or a congregation of believers. First we have apostles’ doctrine, or as it is known today the Scripture or the Word of God. Second, we have fellowship, the brotherly bond that is a necessity within the household of faith, something that has been lost within many a congregation among the power plays and machinations of those who desire position rather than subservience to God.
Third, we have the breaking of bread, and fourth we have prayer. Without these things the household of faith cannot mature properly, it cannot grow from faith to faith and from grace to grace, and as is the case with a car or with a home, all four are necessary for the Body to function properly.
The Christian life is only possible if we remain steadfast in the things that keep it. First is teaching, which is spiritual nourishment, second is prayer which is spiritual oxygen, third is fellowship which is the requisite spiritual environment, and fourth is the breaking of bread which is the refreshing of one’s mind, or the bringing to remembrance of that which Jesus taught and what He desires for our lives.
When we neglect prayer, when we neglect fellowship when we neglect teaching, when we neglect being refreshed by the power of the Holy Spirit, we begin to wither, and become spiritually dry.
Many a soul has grown spiritually dry and brittle not because of some debilitating sin, but because they neglected their spiritual man. By neglecting prayer, by neglecting the study of the Word, by neglecting fellowship with the brethren, by neglecting communion with the Holy Spirit, we begin to wither spiritually.
Just as our physical bodies cannot survive without air, food, water, heat and rest, as these are the fundamental necessities for human survival, the Body of Christ cannot survive without the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:2, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”
Yes, the disciples had received the Holy Spirit, yet they continued to be steadfast in prayer, in teaching, in fellowship and in the breaking of bread. Steadfastness has a beginning, but it can never have an end in the life of a believer. We must be constant in our desire for more of God, we must be constant in our prayer life, and we must be constant in the studying of the Word, because there is not a soul in this world that has reached a point in their spiritual walk for whom these things are no longer necessary. Steadfastness or constancy is the vessel in which the gifts of God are kept. We not only come to the knowledge of truth, we must remain in it, we not only receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we must grow in them. Our journey, our progress, our maturity, and our growth end when this present life ends. We must run the race to completion, faithfully and consistently, for it is only when we have finished the race that we receive our crown.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.